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As the forces of the universe muster against the ultimate villain Thanos for "Avengers: Endgame" (2019), Space.com took a look back at how the Marvel Cinematic Universe — that's MCU, to you — built up a vast and vibrant realm that incorporates the vastness and strangeness of outer space. Since the beginning, the MCU has been ramping up in scale, revealing ultrapowerful galaxy-level heroes and the villains to match them. And beyond those grand machinations, Marvel's movies have always had little cinematic winks to NASA and the space industry.
Related: 'Avengers: Endgame': It's Epic, Surprising, Satisfying ... and Impossible to Review
Marvel - Movies - Focus - Vastness - Strangeness
Marvel movies have shown a swiftly ascending focus on the vastness and strangeness of outer space. The earliest two MCU movies — "Iron Man" (2008) and "The Incredible Hulk" (2008) — stayed Earth-focused, but an appearance by Stark in Hulk's movie began to weave together the Marvel universe into a greater whole, including many alien entities.
SpaceX CEO begs Tony Stark's attention for a moment in "Iron Man 2."
Thor - Loki - Moment - Space - Thor
Thor and Loki experience a dramatic moment in space in "Thor."
The plot of the movie "Thor" (2011) centered around wormholes, "bridges" through space-time that are mathematically predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. Thor's home realm, Asgard, has instant access to numerous different spaces via wormholes (directed by their bridge of legend, the Bifrost), which scientists are studying.
Captain - America - Avenger - Film - Villain
In "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011), the film's villain — the Red Skull — uses what looks like a tricked-out V2 rocket as a getaway vehicle at one point as a nod to Nazi rocket research. And the plot involved the weaponization of the tesseract, which is a wormhole-creating device.
NASA's Dark Energy Lab (as seen in "Marvel's The Avengers") doesn't actually exist, but the movie scenes were filmed in the Space Power Facility at NASA...
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